America's Wilderness
The Photographs of Ansel Adams With the Writings of John Muir

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life." (p. 75)
In a nicely done coffee-table style book, big and beautiful black-and-white photographs of the famous photographer Ansel Adams are combined with snippets from nature writer John Muir. The pictures are from national parks ranging from Montana to California--with many in between. The photographs usually take up about 90% or more of each page so Muir's writings aren't really the focal point of the book. They do add a very nice touch to the overall feeling and flavor though.

Since Muir's words weren't penned specifically for the photos or scenes displayed (Muir died only 12 years after Adams was born) they aren't always completely applicable. This isn't altogether a bad thing. When Muir is describing the appearance of an animal, the song of a bird, and the brilliant colors of a scene while you are staring at a black and white photo apparently devoid of any animal life, the imagination kicks in, and Adams' photographs take on a whole new life.

From the publisher:
A tribute to our national parks and the foresight of those who sought to preserve those wild spaces. Quotes from noted naturalist John Muir, who started the conservation movement with the founding of the Sierra Club in 1892, are paired with Ansel Adams's evocative photographs of Grand Canyon National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and others. These photographs were commissioned by the Interior Department as part of a mural project and had been intended to decorate the walls of its Washington, D.C. headquarters.

Ansel Adams [1902-1984] Photographer, conservationist; born in San Francisco. A commercial photographer for 30 years, he made visionary photos of western landscapes that were inspired by a boyhood trip to Yosemite. He won three Guggenheim grants to photograph the national parks (1944-58). Founding the f/64 group with Edward Weston in 1932, he developed zone exposure to get maximum tonal range from black-and-white film. He served on the Sierra Club Board (1934-71).

John Muir [1838-1914] Farmer, inventor, sheepherder (later opposing this activity due to its destruction of mountain meadows and forests), naturalist, explorer, writer, and conservationist. In 1868, he walked across the San Joaquin Valley through waist-high wildflowers and into the high country for the first time. Later he would write: "Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called not the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light...the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen."

By 1871 he had found living glaciers in the Sierra and had conceived his controversial theory of the glaciation of Yosemite Valley. He began to be known throughout the country. Famous men of the time--Joseph LeConte, Asa Gray and Ralph Waldo Emerson--made their way to the door of his pine cabin.

Beginning in 1874, a series of articles by Muir entitled "Studies in the Sierra" launched his successful career as a writer. In later years he turned more seriously to writing, publishing 300 articles and 10 major books that recounted his travels, expounded his naturalist philosophy, and beckoned everyone to "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." Muir's love of the high country gave his writings a spiritual quality. Muir was personally involved in the creation of Sequoia, Mount Rainier, Petrified Forest, and Yosemite National Parks. Muir deservedly is often called the "Father of Our National Park System".